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by Andreas Hale
30 July, 2003@12:00 am
0 comments

First impressions mean everything!!  A few months ago while checking out Atmosphere’s God Loves Ugly tour, one unknown, rather curious looking emcee took the stage and proceeded to make a very immediate and lasting impression.  After running thru some solo-cuts, dazzling freestyles and beat-boxing the crowd into submission it was evident that Brother Ali was not your typical opening act.  By the time Ali exited, the smokey club was not only lifted from the copious amount of weed smoke that was pilfering thru the air, but buzzing about Brother Ali’s performance!!

After missing out on his under the radar debut, Rites of Passage, (can I get a copy?) Brother Ali releases his sophomore effort Shadows on the Sun—-an honest hip-hop album that’s chock full of concepts, narratives, and yes battling.  But what separates Ali from your typical emcee is that he not only can burn holes in emcees, but he is equally adept at putting together heartfelt narratives, exemplified by the humbling “Win Some Lose Some”, “Dorian”, where Ali breaks down an abusive relationship and “Room With A View” which comes off as the Minneapolis take on Nas’ ”Project Window.” 

It would be convenient for Ali to use his “looks” (albino) as a gimmick, or novelty, but he eschews the obvious negative attention his irregular pigmentation could receive, and flips the script on our judgmental society on “Forest Whitaker”—” you might think I’m depressed as can be/but when I look in the mirror I see sexy ass me/and if that’s something you can’t respect then that’s peace/my life’s better without you actually.”  But don’t get it twisted, Ali’s not all concepts, as he goes line for line with the illest punchliners on the bouncy “Champion” and connects with the next white hope, Slug, on “Blah Blah Blah” and the chin-checking “Missing Teeth”.

While most of his production for Atomsphere sets the mood for Slug’s dark diatribes, Ant  chips in arguably his most solid and diverse production to date on Shawdows On The Sun.   From the buttery organs of “Forest Whitaker” to the early nineties-ish boom-bap of “Bitchslap” each and every track fits the mood and topic Ali is trying to develop. 

At 18 tracks deep, a few tracks could have been sacrificed for quality control, but that does not preclude Shadows On The Sun from being one of 2003′s best releases—major or indy!!  While it may have taken us a hot minute to notice, everything happens for a reason and Shadows On The Sun is that reason.  Do yourself a favor and cop not only the LP, but catch Ali live, you’ll thank us later.

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